MBA classes began in the new facilities in March, though Saloner says the school did not have full access to the new campus until only ten days before the opening ceremonies on Friday. “For me, it’s incredible to watch the students discovering the spaces,” said Saloner. “You plan and you build, but you don’t know in the end what you’re going to do with that. The students have discovered that they can move the Adirondack chairs and put them out on the lawn and sit out there and study. And at the Bass Center students have 24/7 access with their cards on the town square. And they are there 24/7.
“What the students tell me now is that they are coming here to hang out. They come on days when there are no classes. The whole learning, living space is combined. For me, moving in is really about watching the place unfold. It’s fantastic,” added Saloner, who has already lectured in some of the new classrooms. “It’s incredible,” he says, describing the new facilities. “They are light filled. The acoustics are fantastic. The technology is state of the art and it makes a difference. It feels more engaging.”
Among other things, Saloner said the new facilities will allow the school to offer more executive education programming. Unlike several other schools, most notably Harvard, Northwestern, and Wharton, Stanford has been highly selective in deciding what executive education programs to offer. The school currently has about 24 different programs on the Stanford campus, though six of them are new, including a “Design Thinking Boot Camp” and “The Indispensable CTO: Strategic Leadership of Technology and Innovation.”
As a potential model for future growth, Saloner points to a new part-time program launched in January on innovation and entrepreneurship for both Silicon Valley professionals and university graduate students. The 20-week evening program, at a cost of $10,000 for participants outside Stanford, meets two evenings a week and one Saturday a month. Roughly half of the participants in the inaugural sessions are graduate students from the university’s medical, law and other schools.
“We can do more things like that,” Saloner says. “That’s really building bridges to the rest of Stanford University. We have a lot more capacity to open our doors to the rest of the university. It’s something, which the president has been driving for a decade and I am a big fan of. We are blessed because all seven schools are within walking distance of each other and we have a set of deans who are very collaborative. If you fast-forward a decade, you’re going to find that the schools will be less self-sufficient than they have been in the past.”
Saloner says he would like the business school to be as open and embracing of the wider university as Stanford’s Law School. Law School Dean Larry Kramer who has dramatically expanded joint degree programs as part of a multidisciplinary approach to legal studies. “He has completely opened the doors of the law school to the university,” says Saloner. “His view is that in the first year you teach your students to think like a lawyer, and then for the next two years, the university is law school. So they have much more of a fluid exchange with the rest of the university. This does give us the facilities to do lots of other things.”